business advice Leadership

Can genius be learned?

UntitledI recently had the pleasure of hanging out with a fellow you’ve probably never heard of: Bob Duggan.

Duggan is quite a character, who is in the proces of netting himself a cool $3.6 billion from the sale of his pharmaceutical company to Abbvie.

It’s not his first fortune. If anyone can claim to have the Midas touch, it’s Duggan, who has had many success in the past. A two-time college drop-out (UCSB and UCLA), he has made his money entirely on his own.

So when he gives advice, people tend to listen.

What fascinated me is that he has implemented a program in his company of training and encouraging “genius characteristics”, discussed here in Investors Business Daily:

“I tell people, ‘You have genius potential’…Some think of genius as innate intelligence, as an inborn characteristic. But the dictionary defines it as an extraordinary intellectual power in creative activity. All of us have that potential.”

…Duggan, 70, believes so deeply in Barrios’ research that he has arranged for employees at Pharmacyclics to take a self-directed program to acquire the 24 genius traits. They might spend about one hour a week learning the characteristics — which include drive, courage and honesty — and complete the course of study over six months.

And that evening, Bob discussed these genius characteristics, based on the work of Alfred Barrios.

These characteristics include:

  • Drive
  • Courage
  • Devotion to goals
  • Knowledge
  • Honesty

…and another 18. You can read them here, in a presentation he made several years ago.

The key argument is that geniuses are made, not born, and that anyone can develop these same characteristics as Einstein or Shakespeare.

It seems to have worked well for Duggan and his now very wealthy team, some of whom have made staggering sums of money with Duggan.


3 replies on “Can genius be learned?”

To Mr Duggan

Dropping out from Medical school and Tech (KTH) a couple of times, came back from the almost dead and have the drive to prosper.

Mail me

Regards Anders

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